There are those who work all day. Those who dream all day. And those who
spend an hour dreaming before setting to work to fulfill those dreams. Go into
the third category because there's virtually no competition.
Steven J. Ross
The Most Important Strategy
— for a year I've been traveling the globe encouraging senior leaders in my
audiences to make the most important 180 degree pivot in their business life and
why you have to read "How Companies Win" – more below, but first some
Strategy before Execution — …it's the same as "dreaming before setting to work."
Without the right strategy, your team is going to waste a lot of time and energy
executing a mess. That's why it's critical for a few key people in the firm to
engage in strategic thinking on a WEEKLY basis at a minimum while staying
constantly exposed to the real world marketplace and thought leaders. It's not
sufficient to discuss strategy once a quarter or once a year in isolation.
Council/Headlight Teams — This is the power of Jim Collins' "Council" or Gary
Hamel's "Headlight Teams." Pick a team of four to six and have breakfast or
lunch together on a regular basis. Steve Jobs had lunch almost every day with
Jonathan Ive discussing design strategy – the essence of Apple's strategic
direction – and then spent his afternoons interacting with customers. The key is
lots of talk time around a specific strategic framework – the
"7 Strata of Strategy" for instance – and then spending the rest of the week
testing your ideas in the marketplace.
Strategic Thinking vs. Execution Planning
— this is why the term "strategic planning" has to be thought of as two
distinct activities and teams: a small team highly connected to the market
engaged in ongoing STRATEGIC thinking (dreaming); and then the broadest team
possible, including anyone in a management position, engaged in execution
PLANNING (work). This is the yin and yang of strategic planning.
Critical Strategy Book — which brings me to the most important strategy book
written in years – How Companies Win by Rick Kash and David Calhoun. Though the main title is
non-descript, it's the subtitle that hints at the most important 180 degree
pivot business leaders must make in the last 60 years —
Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You're In.
Gazelles 200 CEOs and book club members will get a copy of their book next week.
And this is why we have Rick Kash as the opening keynote at the Fortune
Growth Summit in Phoenix next month – there is no more important strategy
idea for growing your business this decade.
Google, Facebook, Amazon — these and other explosive growth firms this century all
have one thing in common – they are demand generation engines. Even Apple
through its app store and iTunes is really in the demand generation business.
None of their devices would be huge sellers if they weren't required to access
the almost limitless supply of tunes and apps. And the myriad of creators of
music and software beg for attention on Apple's platforms.
2007 Crisis: Demographic not Financial
— the financial meltdown was simply the result of a seismic demographic shift.
Since WWII there has been more demand than supply in almost every sector of the
economy. In 2007 the tables turned, driven by the 1.4 billion people moving into
the middle class who must produce before they can consume. Combine this with the
ability for anyone to service everyone from anywhere and almost overnight the
planet bulged with a plethora of competitors, creating more supply than demand.
Supply vs. Demand — …thus the need for the crucial 180 degree pivot! For
decades, business leaders have focused on the supply side of their business –
"better, faster, cheaper" – and won. Now we must direct all those supply side
energies toward the demand side of the business i.e. how much time do we
scrutinize and negotiate every penny we spend with suppliers; yet customer
pricing is set willy-nilly using nothing more complicated than WAGs (wild-ankle
7% That Matters — what Kash and Calhoun detail in their book (and Kash
will present at the Fortune
Growth Summit) is the process for getting laser focused on the demand side of
the business, identifying the 7% – 10% of the market that represents the largest
profit pools in your industry — and approaching this task with the same
precision and focus we've given the supply side of our business the past several
decades. This means taking a serious look at your weekly calendar and evaluating
where you're spending your precious hours. FYI, at the time Apple first achieved
the most valuable company status, its combined market share across all business
lines was just 7%, yet that 7% represented 50% of the entire industry's
profitability. Kash will help you figure out where the profit pools are in your
Steven J Ross Quote — thanks to Greg Vetter, Oldest Brother (official title!)
All Natural for sending me the Ross quote above. BTW, their dressings and
marinades are outstanding. And you have to love their tagline "Three Brothers
and A Mother Livin' Happy and Healthy." Greg recently signed up for the insights
noting "Your book is in our 'Tesse Library' and is required reading for our
Operational team and staff. My Brothers and the rest of the Operations team have
already read it and I am re-reading it now that we have entered a new phase of
our business." It's all about generating demand.
See you in Phoenix — just 90 seats are left for the
Fortune Growth Summit Oct 23 – 24. Spend two intense days with your
executive team learning directly from Rick Kash, Jim Kouzes, Anne Morriss, Ron
McMillan, Vijay Govindarajan, Chip Conley, and Rich Moran – authors of a handful
of the best biz books out of the thousands published each year.